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May 6, 2023


Remy Barnes

PJ and DJ met in the company break room, stirring granules of coffee into their steaming water. They were talking about what Corporate said, what was coming down from Corporate. The television in the break room was playing a fire, the fire crackled. The fire was occurring in a city somewhere. The sky in that city was orange. There were going to be changes coming from Corporate. As Corporate put it, they would be molting, they would be metamorphosing, they would be bringing a few new people into the fold while casting others off. DJ said this is not good. It is never good when Corporate starts using phrases like molting or metamorphosing.

They returned to their neighboring cubicles in the room of cubicles. Pneumatic tubes crisscrossed the room of cubicles like the circulatory system of a forlorn demi-god. The tubes brought work, which PJ often completed early and without careless error. Through the wall, PJ asked, What is Corporate like? And through the wall, DJ answered, Imagine an egg. Thin shell, gooey inside. At least that’s how we imagine them. No, no, said CJ through another wall. Corporate is not like an egg. Imagine Corporate as an orb or orb-like interface. A series of interfaces rotating around a single omniscient entity. So, PJ said, they are an orb or at least orb-like? No, no, said TJ through another wall, they’re more like a cube. Did you see that movie? Where opening the cube made like a sexy hell? No one had seen this movie, not even TJ. Well, they’re like that, TJ concluded. Corporate, Hazy Dave said through yet another wall, is none of those things. They are a catalog of deliberations made and unmade and to be made, as vacuous as they are benevolent as they are severe. This is the way they’ve always been described to me, anyway. Hazy Dave had been at the company the longest, longer than any of us, so there was an unspoken deferral to Hazy Dave’s conception of Corporate. Their whispering ceased as the fire alarm went off, shocking no one. The fire alarm was often going off and moments of quiet came to be more drastic than the cacophony of noise so that sound and silence had exchanged places in their capacity for surprise.

The day flattened out, extended all its appendages. The thick, airy sound of work shot through the tubes. Someone said Corporate had been seen on their level and therefore their level was the next to be seen by Corporate. The monotonous clicking of a hundred dry throats constricting would have been heard had the fire alarm not been going off. First CJ was seen and not seen again. Then, TJ was seen and not seen again. Then, Hazy Dave was seen and not seen again. Then, DJ was seen and DJ said, oh shit, oh fuck, and was not seen again.

PJ was last to be seen and followed the fluorescent hallways to the conference room. The fire alarm ended, bringing a cottony silence.  

In the dark center of the room of tables, Corporate hovered humming pleasantly, an enormous opalescent tear drop, so smooth and so cold. An egg! Or at least egg-like. PJ doffed their slacks.  Corporate opened their shell, revealing a tapestry of skin, all those squirting, and gushing bodies with their thick, wet orifices undulating in an interminable disco of flesh. It was time for a promotion.